When Is Writing Not Enough?

Written by Michael Benavidez

I’ve participated in a wide variety of technical writing courses, seminars, and presentations as a way to break into the industry. The speakers I’ve heard come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, but one common subject is that of change. Technical writer jobs today are not the same as they were ten or even five years ago. New skills are needed.

One of the technical writing instructors in my certificate program, a man who had worked on projects at companies such as Microsoft and Disney, talked about the importance of adding one or more skills to our writing credentials. He had been a technical writer and editor for many years, but decided to learn programming after realizing his skills alone wouldn’t be enough as the work evolved.

There can be varying skills technical writers need to have in order to perform their job, depending on the industry. Two employers might list very different qualifications for similar positions.

While pursuing my technical writing certificate, I’ve started to learn how to code. I don’t expect to become a programmer any time soon, but I think this skill will help me speak the language and write more accurate documentation.

Unquestionably, becoming familiar with different areas of technical writing is as important as having writing skills.